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Organizing a Winning Fundraising Event

Every year, we are fortunate to benefit from the efforts of a multitude of friends and families of the Parkinson community, schools, and other groups who organize fundraising events on our behalf across the USA. This support generates a vital source of income for our work at PDF but equally valuable, these activities create a groundswell of publicity, helping to keep alive and burning bright our need to fund research into the causes and cure of Parkinson's disease.

Here, we hope to assist those of you who are looking for some guidance on how to plan and maximize a fundraising event that at this stage may just be an idea. Hopefully, we'll encourage you to turn your ideas into action!

  1. DRAFT A PLAN: Determine the outline of your fundraising activity. Try to think of something new and different by giving your event a theme. Will it be a jazz or comedy night? A BBQ, picnic, or canapés and wine? A car-wash event? A bike ride or walk-a-thon? One supporter recently raised $600 by organizing a pancake breakfast for his co-workers. Another raised funds by asking guests to donate to Parkinson's instead of bringing gifts to a surprise party for a relative.
  2. GET HELP: Organizing an event on your own can prove to be nerve-racking, even overwhelming. Form a small group to discuss your idea. Start by exciting your friends and family about your idea and enlisting their help. By pooling resources and people there is a chance of having a bigger event and raising even more money!
  3. DETERMINE YOUR OBJECTIVES: Agree within your group what you aim to achieve from your event. Think beyond just raising money (although this is important!) and question how you might go about spreading the word and educating other people on Parkinson's disease.
  4. TIMING: Agree on the best time to hold your event. Check local media listings to avoid conflict with other events already taking place.
  5. RAISING THE $$$: Firstly, identify and list the costs that you might incur for the event. This will include things like food and beverages, printed tickets or leaflets and venue costs. Try to see how you might recoup these costs by asking a local company to sponsor all or a part of the event. Distribute assignments among your group of helpers. Then, identify how you will raise funds. Will you organize games, a raffle or goodie bags? Charge a premium for the best seats? Sell advertising space in a program? Give out pledge forms? Many employers will match what their employees raise and have a specific budget for this type of support so don't forget to ask your own company too.
  6. HOW? The next step is to have the group develop an action plan. Decide who is going to do what: e.g. publicity/posters; attaining special equipment; setting up/clearing away; inviting a local VIP/celebrity or Parkinson's spokesperson; contacting local businesses for sponsorship or prizes; thanking sponsors and supporters after the event.
  7. START PROMOTING: Motivate! Tell everyone you meet about your plans. Put up posters in the community church/shops/library/sports clubs. (Ask permission first so that they are not removed. And after the event, be sure to remove posters.) In your publicity, emphasize the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and the difference the support will make. Contact your local press and radio. Ask them to support what you are doing for the Parkinson's community. Don't be put off! The media should be interested in supporting the efforts of their local community.
  8. THE COUNTDOWN: Two weeks before your event there should be a frenzied build-up as all your efforts begin to gel. Chase up local media and businesses if they have not yet responded. Contact your VIP's to finalize details. Excite your helpers and friends and clarify their responsibilities.
  9. THE BIG DAY: Hold a briefing session for your helpers before the event starts, ensure that everyone is aware of how they are going to support the event. Ensure that VIP's and any attending media are well looked after. Then you can relax and enjoy all your efforts!
  10. FOLLOW UP: Congratulate yourself and everyone who has helped to make your event a success. Put up 'Thank-you' posters announcing how much money you raised and send personalized thank you notes to key supporters. Contact the media with your news and invite them to attend a photo-call of a check presentation.

Ask us! We are considering producing a 'how to' guide on organizing a winning fundraising event. If you would be interested in receiving this guide when it is published please email us at